Evidence of a deep viral host switch event with beak and feather disease virus infection in rainbow bee-eaters (Merops ornatus)

Subir Sarker, Kathy G. Moylan, Seyed Ghorashi, Jade Forwood, Andrew Peters, Shane Raidal

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Since the characterization of psittacine beak and feather disease (PBFD) in 1984, a wide range of avian circoviruses have been discovered with varying pathogenic effects amongst a diverse range of avian hosts. Until recently these circovirus species were thought to be restricted to within avian Orders such as the Psittaciformes for beak and feather disease virus (BFDV) and Columbiformes for pigeon circovirus with little evidence of cross-family transmission or replication. We report evidence of a naturally occurring novel host switch event with self-limiting BFDV infection in a group of rainbow bee-eaters (Merops ornatus) a species of Coraciiformes unrelated to parrots and not previously known to be susceptible to any avian circovirus. The outbreak highlights important and unexpected aspects of disease emergence and host-switching pertinent to other situations when viruses might cross species boundaries as well as the potential of avian circoviruses to infect disparate host species.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14511
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015


Grant Number

  • FT120100242

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